Most Popular Posts of 2015

I hope you’ve had a top-notch two-thousand and fifteen. What are some of the highlights of your year? My highlights include playing tennis in South Carolina for spring break, volunteering with my church in Atlanta (Georgia) for a week in June, and posting for my blog!

I published SIXTY-SIX posts on my blog this year, which leads to an overall total of ONE-HUNDRED blog posts. I think that’s pretty cool. The majority of these posts featured recipes.

The ingredients I used the most were oats, bananas, chocolate, and peanut butter (surprise, surprise). All of the top five recipes have at least one of those ingredients in them. We all seemed to love both caramel and peanut butter this year, especially together. We also seemed to go bananas for bananas (I couldn’t resist the pun).

Check out the top five recipes this year! By top five I mean…

The five most viewed recipes of 2015

1. Caramel Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Silky smooth caramel plus crunchy peanut butter cookies swirled into vanilla ice cream equals the BEST ICE CREAM EVER. Honestly, you can’t even tell it’s vegan! Give it a try, especially if you are a peanut butter lover like me!

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2. Caramel Nice Cream

Notice a pattern here already? Caramel! My favorite caramel is made with dates, so it’s not only delicious but secretly healthy as well (so you can eat more of it without feeling guilty!). This recipe is nice cream (ice cream made out of bananas) combined with my favorite caramel. It’s a sweet breakfast, lunch, snack, or dessert!

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3. Vegan and Gluten Free Banana Bread

This is an extremely simple recipe that’s vegan and gluten free if you use gluten free oats to make gluten free oat flour! I think the previous sentence should win some sort of award for the number of times the phrase “gluten free” was used. Just kidding. Try this recipe if you have lots of ripe bananas sitting out on your countertop. If you want a sweeter banana bread, try my other banana bread with chocolate chips in it.

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4. Vanilla Oatmeal Nice Cream Sandwiches

I was surprised this one was in the top five! It makes sense that it is though because it’s simple, healthy, and delicious. Simple recipes are the best kind of recipes in my opinion.

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5. Chewy Chocolate Cookies

This is another extremely simple recipe featuring oats and bananas. Four of the top five recipes feature bananas!

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I love the five most viewed recipes. However, I had some other personal favorites as well!

my personal five favorite posts of 2015

  1. Caramel Peanut Butter Ice Cream (it’s number one for both categories!)

  2. Peanut Butter Carrot Muffins

  3. Strawberry Love Cupcakes

  4. “PB+B” Quesadilla

  5.  Vibrant Penne Pasta

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I hope you liked this recipe round-up post. Maybe you can 
make one of these recipes for a New Year's Party!

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve! What are your plans for bringing in the new year?

xx Ellie

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Merry Christmas! Also happy Kwanzaa (even though it starts tomorrow) and happy belated Hanukkah! I guess I should probably just say “happy holidays” instead.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet because I’m about to go celebrate Christmas with my family! My family’s tradition is to wake up relatively early, open gifts at our house, then travel (a few miles) to my grandparent’s house for more present opening, brunch, and family time. This tradition has been going strong since my birth (minus last year). I LOVE it. What is your Christmas day (or other holiday) tradition?

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One of the foods that makes an appearance at Christmas brunch year after year is blueberry coffee cake made with a recipe from my grandma’s old Junior League cookbook. In years past, I’ve just foregone the [nonvegan] coffeecake and loaded up on fruit. This year, however, my grandma put me in charge of making a vegan version of the coffee cake! The original version called for shortening, egg, milk, and cups upon cups of sugar. I don’t know about you, but I eat so much sugar during the holiday season that I put Buddy the Elf to shame. Because of this, I decreased the amount of sugar in the coffee cake (I also did it so I can justify eating cake for breakfast because now it’s “healthy cake,” which is an oxymoron by the way). This version is also vegan because I’m vegan and I WANT TO EAT CAKE TOO.

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I replaced the shortening the original recipe called for with coconut oil and applesauce so the cake is way more nutritious (and has fewer calories) than the original. I replaced the egg with a trusty “flax egg” and the milk with almond milk (but feel free to use any type of nondairy milk). I hope my family loves this coffee cake as much as I do! I think it tastes like the original non-vegan version, but then again, it’s been a few years since I tried it. The cake is dusted with a cinnamon sugar topping that makes it taste like baby angel wings (well, what I think baby angel wings would taste like).

Make this coffee cake for Christmas brunch (for this year if you are a hardcore procrastinator that can whip out this coffeecake ASAP or for Christmas next year?), for New Year’s day, or make it on a Friday night and enjoy it on a lazy Saturday morning with a cup of coffee (since it is COFFEE cake).  Unless you’re me because I don’t like coffee (although I’ve only ever tried straight black coffee so I can’t say I don’t like all coffee… coffee lovers, what coffee is good that I should try to end my dislike of coffee?).

Grab a drink (of any variety), a plate, a fork, a knife, and cut into this delicious coffee cake!

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Blueberry Coffee Cake

Serves 8-12

Based on the “Huckleberry Buckle” recipe in an old Junior League cookbook (page 53)

Coffee Cake Layer:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (unsoftened)
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 flax egg
  • 2 cups flour (1 cup all-purpose, 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 and ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup nondairy milk
  • 2 cups blueberries

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
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Batter on the left, topping on the right

  1. Make a flax egg by mixing together one tablespoon of flaxseed meal and three tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Let it sit in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. For cake: cream coconut oil, applesauce, and sugar together in a stand mixer.
  4. Add in the flax egg and mix to combine.
  5. Add in a cup of flour, the salt, and the baking powder and mix to combine.
  6. Add in half of the milk (1/4 cup) and mix to combine.
  7. Add in the other cup of flour and mix to combine (do you see a pattern here?).
  8. Add in the rest of the milk (1/4 cup) and mix to combine.
  9. Fold in the blueberries (I used frozen because it’s winter here in MI so there aren’t any fresh blueberries. Cue the tears.).
  10. Spray/ (vegan) butter the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan. Add the batter to the pan. The batter SHOULD be thick and blue (the blue color will bake out! *In Bill Nye voice: “Science RULES!”*)
  11. Make the topping by combining all the topping ingredients together. Sprinkle the topping liberally onto the top of the cake.
  12. Put the cake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the cake and topping are both golden brown and the cake is no longer gooey in the middle.
  13. Let it cool, slice it, and enjoy it!

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Enjoy cake for breakfast today (or any day) with this coffeecake. Merry Christmas!

xo Ellie

P.S.- This is my 100th blog post! Merry Christmas to my blog, I guess this post is its present??

5 Tips For Staying Vegan During The Holidays as You Feast with Carnivores

Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these days you’d like to read… Okay I’m done. Adele rocks but it’s time for some real talk. Holidays. Specifically, enjoying holidays as a plant-eater in a world of primarily meat-eaters.

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Thanksgiving already happened. Black Friday (if you consider it a holiday) already happened. Hanukkah is happening. Christmas is in sixteen days (!!!!!). Then it’s New Year’s Eve. Wow. With all these important holidays coming up, I thought I’d make a little list of tips to help you survive the holidays as a vegan/ vegetarian/ pescatarian/ veggie-lover, etc.

Enjoy this list and enjoy your holiday season!

1. Don’t freak out if your family is basically the opposite of vegan.

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I went to Kansas for Thanksgiving to visit my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins, and they are, for lack of a better word, carnivores. They’re not actually carnivores as they do eat a few vegetables (namely potatoes)… but they’re close. I love them, but our lifestyles are very different.

I walked into my uncle’s house to find… this (see left). Welcome to the Haun crib indeed.

Don’t freak out if your family’s house looks like this. Don’t freak out if your family doesn’t know what kale is. Don’t freak out if your family doesn’t have any food for you to eat. I repeat, DO NOT FREAK OUT. If the above sentences sound like your family, just make sure that you prepare ahead of time! This leads me to my next point.

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This was my uncle’s dining room table centerpiece. To the right is the dining room table all set up for Thanksgiving lunch.

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2. BE OPEN-MINDED AND READY TO ANSWER any QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR DIETARY CHOICES.

You may meet people at a gathering who have never heard the word “vegan” before. Refresh yourself on some key points about veganism so you can let dear Aunt Sally know why you’re not eating the ham! Also be open-minded about the fact that not everyone will understand your choices. As much as you might want to, don’t be too pushy or forceful about your beliefs (vegan or otherwise). We’ve all met those people, and they kind of give their cause a bad rap. Just remember that everything will be okay if you are kind and openminded. 

I found this on Google Images when I searched “be nice.” It made me smile.

3. Prepare ahead by making a few veggie-filled dishes to pass.

Make a few veggie-filled dishes to share with everyone at whatever gathering you attend. As my friend Hannah from Bittersweet told me, that way you “have something delicious to eat, and [you] can share it with anyone willing to give it a try. It’s a great way to open the conversation up about veganism as well, while showing everyone just how delicious it can be. There’s no pressure on the people stuck in their ways about having turkey, but no one is going hungry or feeling left out either.” Great advice. 

Below are a few of my favorite holiday potluck dishes.

[From left to right: Pesto Protein Bowl, Pumpkin Bread, and three delicious holiday sides.]

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4. Veganize Family favorites

Show your family that vegan food can be delicious and nutritious by bringing a vegan version of a family favorite recipe to a gathering. If you don’t want to veganize a family recipe yourself, just Google (or Yahoo or Bing) whatever recipe you want to make + “vegan” and you will find multiple vegan versions of it! Yum.

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My mom veganized one of our favorite family recipes this fall: apple crisp.

5. Drink lots of water and eat lots of veggies during this season of giving and getting (heavier).

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you feel hungry, drink water. Your hunger might actually go away because you were probably thirsty instead of hungry.

Load up on the veggies as they have fewer calories and are more nutritious than carbs (like dinner rolls, pie, sweet bread, potato casserole, etc.). The carbs are yummy, but having too many won’t make you feel so yummy the next day.

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Load up on veggies, especially leafy greens, during holiday meals. These are veggies from my family’s garden this past summer.

Some of these points might be pretty obvious, but I thought I’d put them on the world-wide web to provide you with help if you need it. If you have dietary restrictions, you can follow these guidelines to have a happy holiday season. Or, if you have family members (or friends or neighbors or colleagues) who have dietary restrictions, use these tips to help ease their food fears!

Spread the love, share food, and have a very merry holiday season!

xx Ellie

Questions of the day: How was your Thanksgiving? Do you have any other holiday tips and tricks to share? Does your family have a favorite holiday recipe?